Recently my interest in cyborgs lead me to watch Alita: Battle Angel, a movie that presents the world of 2563 as being full of cyborgs with varying remnants of humanity. It’s takes place far in the future but in reality cyborgs are already among us and as some futurists tell us, we better get used to it.
Cyborg is short for cybernetic organism and is variously defined as a person whose function is aided by a mechanical or electronic device but a better version is much wider and could be any human relying consistently on some kind of technology.
In 1998 Kevin Warkwick implanted a device into his forearm and linked it to a computer to become the world’s first cyborg. Neil Harbisson was born with a severe colorblindness so he had a chip implanted in his brain which connects to an antenna that translates color into sound. The antenna curves up and over the back of his skull to dangle in front of his forehead making him look like a movie version of a cyborg. Another person had a sensor implanted in her elbow that vibrates whenever an earthquake occurs.
Five paraplegics with implanted spinal electrodes have been able to regain some movement. And a bionic eye systems made up of a camera attached to glasses and connected to a chip in the retina allows the blind to see and read letters again. There are millions of people who have augmented their bodies with cochlear implants to hear, cardiac pacemakers and implantable defibrillators to prevent sudden death and contact lens to improve daily vision.
The ultimate human – machine connection could be something called neural lace an emerging technology I mentioned in my flash briefing on brain hacking. Neural lace is a lace like electronic mesh that is injected into the brain to create a digital layer that sits above the brain and connects to the cloud thus giving access to all its’ stored information. And don’t we do this to some degree already with an external device by our constant interaction with our smartphones.
Lastly there is a global social and philosophical movement called transhumanism which advocates for the use of technology and science to enhance human intellect and abilities.
The lines between humans and machines are blurring everyday.
Maybe Elon Musk expressed it best when he said “We’re already a cyborg” .
From short and sweet AI, I’m Dr. Peper.